I have a 4k projector and have been conducting side by side tests of the (upscaled to 4K)blu rays(2011) with the original Pan & Scan laserdiscs(released from 1982 to 1986)
The projector has component jacks which allows for analogue connectivity.
I have chosen the P&S formats because they have the greatest native vertical resolution.
The widescreen releases (be it DVD,Laserdisc or VHS)have diminished vertical resolution due to the “unused” black bars at the top and bottom.
For the record, I also have the 1987/87 Japanese widescreen special collectors editions and the 1995 Faces(also widescreen) laserdiscs but they were not appropriate for these tests.
From an artistic point of view I know P&S has been derided because of the cropped nature of the video framings BUT they still had the largest amount of picture information within those frames.
And to boot they had no digital manipulation applied to them(be it picture or sound). DNR ,edge enhancement or compression algorithms are wonderfully absent from these laserdiscs.
It’s also great to hear the original optical Dolby Stereo surround tracks in their original LCRS configuration and to see the film grain undulate and oscillate from frame to frame.
Original 1st generation home theater enthusiasts from the early 1980s would not have been able to observe these discrepancies because they would have been viewing these laserdiscs on smallish TV screens(unless they had CRT projectors!).Plus their surround sound decoders did not encapsulate the center channel until 1987-88.
4K projection enables the viewer to notice any anomalies within the image.
One thing I have noticed is that intentionally defocused backgrounds(part of the original cinematography) look much more natural on the laserdiscs.
Blu Ray(or DVD) ,due to compression artifacts, make these same scenes(which have de-focused backgrounds) have a very baked(unaturally sharp) appearance.
The opticals(e.g when Artoo gets shot by the Jawas) also suffer with HD(or UHD) compression.
DNR has been applied on the Blu Ray to keep the look consistent between 1st generation live footage(without opticals) and SFX shots. At 4K resolution, the shimmering induced by the DNR and compression(to obscure the increased grain densities) is very prominent.
The same scenes on the laserdiscs have no such problem.
Finally the mastering used for the 2011 Blurays(and 2004 DVDs) whereby certain scenes(e.g inside the Sandcrawler) creates a very dark crush on shadow detail.
It’s almost hilarious to see laserdisc transfers(which predate the Blu rays by almost 25-30 years!) have superior shadow detail.
So all in all those P&S laserdiscs are my personal guilty pleasures.